First came the stylish renovation of the theatre, and now the Wolverhampton Grand are continuing to make their mark on the city as they open their first produced production in 40 years.
Opening this week, Wolverhampton Grand will be staging a full-scale production of Brassed Off, which tells the story of the real events of a colliery brass band in West Yorkshire village that got named one of the most deprived villages in the country. It is a funny and life-affirming tale of community spirit and triumph in the face of adversity. Adapted from the 1996 film, director Gareth Tudor Price said: “I’ve had regular meetings with the writer, Paul Allen, who adapted it for stage from the film. The script is very close to the film and we’ve got a terrific cast to help bring it to life.”
Leading man Danny’s lifelong ambition is to lead the Grimley Colliery Band to the National Brass Band Competition at the Royal Albert Hall, and even after the pits face closure, he continues to fight for his dream. Taking on the role of Danny is Jeffrey Holland, best known for his portrayal of ‘Spike’ in BBC TV’s Hi-De-Hi. Who has strong connections with the theatre, as it was the first theatre he ever took himself to as a small lad in the mid 50’s. He said: “Back then I saw the matinée of what they were doing in their weekly rep. It was the first play I ever went to on my own and I sat there absolutely fascinated, watching real live actors working on the stage and laughing at the funny lines. I absorbed it and it made a special moment in time: I think a little seed started to grow.”
For Artistic Director of the Wolverhampton Grand, Adrian Jackson, it’s a delight to be able to take ownership over their own productions. “I think it’s really important for a theatre like the Grand to produce. We are a building full of creative people and the theatre has been receiving shows for many years – that’s great but to actually create our own work for the people of Wolverhampton and beyond is terrific,” he said. “It gives people here a chance to fully utilise their skills and there’s been a definite excitement throughout the whole organisation at the thought of producing what will be a landmark production in the history of the Grand Theatre.”
The play was first performed at the Sheffield Crucible back in 1998, only two years after the film came out. Its success was achieved due to the magic that theatre brings to the story, and of course the live brass band. Gary Tudor Price explained: “What I love about theatre is that every live performance is different. With TV and film you get what you get but on stage there’s scope for a different reaction every night, and in Brassed Off which is a highly emotional piece we should achieve that. It’s important to me that the cast are fully aware of what this is about, the interpretation has got to be right.
As the Wolverhampton Grand start creating their own productions, it will see a huge change for the theatre. “Gone are the days of the theatre being ‘dark’ for the summer, a theatrical term for being closed,” Adrian said. “We’ve got to build, we have to use this beautiful theatre to develop and create work, putting our own stamp on ‘theatre’ going forward. There will be entertainment in this theatre for almost 52 weeks of the year. I have big plans for the theatre which includes another production that we will produce next summer, a musical, something that will utilise every skill of the great team at the Grand Theatre.”
Opening on the 23rd of August, tickets and information can be found here.